Launcher for AirPort Utility v5.6.1

The Launcher for AirPort Utility v5.6.1 has ALWAYS been and will ALWAYS be free(ware).

If you find the Launcher posted anywhere else, let us know!

What is Bristlecone IT Services?

Bristlecone IT Services is an IT services company that serves clients of all sizes, from individual computer users to multinational corporations.

I thought I was on!

These files were originally created by Corey J. Mahler, and he is the owner of BITS. The files were moved over to ZCS in June of 2016 when Mr. Mahler redesigned his website and ZCS was renamed to BITS in 2018. The Launcher is now maintained by BITS.

AirPort Utility v5.6.1


  • OS X 10.7Lion
  • OS X 10.8Mountain Lion
  • OS X 10.9Mavericks
  • OS X 10.10Yosemite
  • OS X 10.11El Capitan
  • macOS 10.12Sierra
  • macOS 10.13High Sierra
  • macOS 10.14Mojave
  • macOS 10.15Catalina
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What the Launcher Is, What the Launcher Does, and Why It Exists

The Launcher is a small utility for OS X (compatible versions listed, supra). Using the Launcher, it is possible to run AirPort Utility v5.6.1 under versions of OS X that would otherwise reject the application. This older version of AirPort Utility is needed to configure older AirPort units (both AirPort Express and AirPort Extreme). For whatever reason, Apple updated AirPort Utility and the new version does not support older AirPort units; obviously, this presents a problem for people who still own these older units.

Everything the Launcher does can be accomplished through Terminal (access to a machine running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is also required). The details of how to do this are included, infra.


How the Launcher Does What It Does

With the release of OS X 10.9 “Mavericks” Apple updated file Apple80211 (contained in /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A). Whatever the other effects of this update, it broke backwards compatibility with older versions of AirPort Utility. Thankfully, the fix is simple: Inject an older version of the file when launching older versions of AirPort Utility. This is precisely what the Launcher does.

When you run the Launcher, it simply injects the OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion” version of file Apple80211 (which the Launcher contains) and then runs AirPort Utility 5.6.1 (which is included in the download of the Launcher). That’s it. One file is the difference between AirPort Utility 5.6.1 running and throwing an error under more recent versions of OS X.


Whereas BITS does have several software development projects, and some of these are licensed Apple Developers, this software is offered as is and is in no way authorized by, approved by, or in any other way recognized by Apple Inc. or any of its subsidiaries. While we have no reason to believe that any harm will come from using this software, we offer it without warranty, guarantee, or any other representations of any kind. By downloading the Launcher from this site, you agree to the foregoing and further agree to hold Bristlecone IT Services (“BITS”) and its subsidiaries, owners, members, employees, and any other personnel wholly harmless in connection with your use of the software.



Why not use a single application? / Why use a companion application?
I have had a number of people contact me (via comments or the contact form) and variously ask why I did not create a single application, recommend how I could create a single application, or offer me an example of a single-application version. While I am thankful for this input and proffered help, I intentionally created the Launcher application as a separate application, instead of modifying the AirPort Utility 5.6.1 binary. The reason for this is simple: I want users (if they would prefer) to be able to acquire the binary directly from Apple or one of their older machines and be able to use that unaltered binary with the Launcher. Once again, thank you to those who offered recommendations and even code, but I intend to keep the Launcher as a separate application unless I somehow find myself in a position where Apple authorizes redistribution of their software (which is highly, highly unlikely), then I would create a standalone version of AirPort Utility 5.6.1 which would not need the companion application and I would sign the application as an identified developer.
How do I link the Launcher on the Apple Support Communities? / Why did Apple remove my link from the Apple Support Communities?
Apple does not allow links to downloads of Apple-created software hosted on non-Apple sites. This means that Apple will not allow links to this article as it makes available a download of AirPort Utility v5.6.1. There is no workaround for this.

Any links to this article will be removed by Apple staff.

Can the Launcher be used/updated to make an older version of X run under a newer version of OS X?
Unfortunately, no. The Launcher works by injecting a single file, and this file will not make anything other than older version of AirPort Utility work under newer version of OS X. Most other software would require more extensive development work to get working.
How can I get AirPort Utility v5.6.1 working without the Launcher?
You can use Terminal. Just follow these three steps:

  1. Rename the new Apple80211 file (i.e., the one included in newer versions of OS X) to (or anything but what it is currently named, actually).
  2. Place the old version of the Apple80211 file into the /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A directory.
  3. Open Terminal and do the following: Navigate to the directory in which you have AirPort Utility v5.6.1, navigate into the .app, navigate to Contents/MacOS; once in the MacOS directory, you will see a file called “AirPort Utility”, type the following: “./AirPortUtility” (without quotes).
Do you offer support?
The Launcher works under the various versions of MacOS listed on this page, but it may take some fiddling. Given the age of the hardware involved, the best option may simply be to upgrade. As such, the Launcher is now offered without any support or guarantee.

Common Issues

Unidentified Developer Warning

The Launcher is unsigned. If you double-click to open the Launcher, you will likely receive an error. To avoid this error, simply right-click on the Launcher and then click “Open” instead of double-clicking.

AppTranslocation Error under macOS 10.12 Sierra (or Later)
In macOS 10.12 Sierra, Apple has increased the level of security provided by GateKeeper. While this increase in security is welcome, it ‘breaks’ some applications. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy workaround. If you receive an error related to AppTranslocation when you attempt to run the Launcher, follow these steps to fix it:

  1. re-download the *.dmg or the *.zip,
  2. open the file after download,
  3. and then move the two *.app files inside the resulting “AirPort Utility 5.6.1” folder one at a time to a folder on your hard drive (the Utilities folder in Applications is the recommended location for obvious reasons).

That’s it. The Launcher should continue to work for you under macOS 10.12 Sierra (and this fix is a one-time necessity).

macOS 10.15 Catalina (or Later)
The “Unidentified Developer Warning” will persist under Catalina, even after you take the aforementioned steps. This is due to changes in how Gatekeeper functions. To get around this, you will need to use Terminal. Open Terminal (just type it into Spotlight) and enter the following two commands:

xattr -d [path to here]
xattr -d [path to AirPort Utility here]

You must replace the bit in brackets with the actual paths to, respectively, the Launcher and AirPort Utility 5.6.1. Do not worry about typing the two paths, simply drag the Launcher (make sure the space after “quarantine” is maintained) and drop it into Terminal and macOS will fill in the path for you (the same is true of AirPort Utility 5.6.1).